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The Beginners Guide to Basic Website Security

Basic Website Security

Website Security isn’t sexy like the movies. There’s no stakeouts or high-speed chases. However, as the owner of an online site, understanding basic website security is one of the necessary evils to ensure the health of your website. Hear me out. Countless people wonder why their website isn’t working the way it used to after spending so much time and money on its functionality and branding. Only to find out that one day you’ve been hacked. 

 

A colleague of mine asked the Paragraph 2 Media Web Design family to develop and design a new website for their existing business. Given that they had been in business for two years, I was surprised that they did not have a working website. Their response when I asked, “the last one kinda didn’t work out.” So I asked a few probing questions. What happened? Can you show me the problem? My colleague shared that their thinking was once the website was up and running, the site would take care of itself. They had spent zero time on maintenance or security since they launched. The issue surfaced when they tried to edit a page and upload a new telephone number.  

 

When they entered the website address to review the site, they were ported over to another unrelated website. The website’s name was slightly different from theirs but similar enough to be mistaken as their company site. The glaring difference was the business operated in another industry. Confused and shocked, my colleague typed in the URL repeatedly, then called the number associated with the website. 

 

Of course, they knew nothing about it. Sure they didn’t! 

 

Then I had to deliver the bad news, “I think someone stole your site?” To make a very long story short, this happens every day, dear reader. My colleague’s story is not as unusual as you may think; it’s commonplace. If your site is not adequately secured, backed up, and maintained, you are at risk for loss. 

 

Can this be prevented? The answer is yes! When working with a WordPress website developer, you must ask if they will provide security for your website from hackers. How long will that security last? If hacked, what can they do to repair or replace your site? 

 

Let’s put it this way, would you leave the door wide open to your business for an uninvited visitor to walk in? The same principle applies to your online business. You have a repository of information about your clients and your business dealings with them, and it all needs to be blocked from prying eyes. The security you need can be found with products from companies such as Wordfence, Sucuri Security, and IThemes Security. The good news is they provide all-in-one protection, firewalls, and other tools to keep the bad guys out. These three companies are not the only ones offering plugins and software that secure your site. However, they are some of the best and an excellent place to start. 

 

Please note – this type of back end work is probably best done by professionals. The back end work of securing a website is usually provided as a nominal charge when your site is newly built or later under a maintenance agreement. A typical maintenance agreement comes with these services, i.e., yearly updates, server-side malware Scan, malware cleanup, database optimization, and spam cleanup. There are other types of maintenance tasks such as backing up your site, blog, files, or database daily, weekly or monthly, that will go a long way to protecting you if there is a breach. For the optimal health of your website, you should update WordPress and the theme installations regularly. 

 

Back to my colleague’s story, after much trepidation, they chose to rename the business and build a new website. Of course, it led to much work that could have been avoided. Reaching out and contacting clients and vendors via phone, text, and email. Alerting them of the hack to the site and updating them with the new information. The good news is there was minimal client loss, but conversely, there was a loss of some of the “goodwill” that had been built during the two years in business. It’s a harsh lesson but a good one, and had the company been substantially larger in clients, this could have been devastating. 

 

My recommendation on this subject is, “The best defense is a good offense.” I can’t believe I am quoting the Packers Coach Vince Lombardi, but it’s the Truth!

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